10 Gift Shopping Tips for Procrastinators

Have you waited until the last minute to wrap up your shopping? Don’t panic! You don’t have to overspend in the rush to finish up.

Here are 10 valuable pointers that will keep you from going overboard and spending more than you can afford during the final few days of the holiday season.

1. Pare your list

Santa with list.
Stokkete / Shutterstock.com

You’re down to the wire, and now is not the time to splurge on Christmas gifts. Unfortunately, the best holiday prices have come and gone for many items.

Narrow your list to include only those people who are nearest and dearest to you. It may be very tempting to pick up an adorable doll for the neighbor’s toddler or a gift card for your favorite co-worker, but doing so can quickly cause your spending to spiral out of control.

Overspending can leave you with less than you need for those who matter most or — even worse — add a substantial amount of newly acquired credit card debt to your personal balance sheet.

(By the way, if you’re struggling with credit card debt, our Solutions Center has resources to help you get out from under it.)

2. Set a time limit

Clock in holiday scene.
pixbox77 / Shutterstock.com

Once you have the final list in hand, determine a reasonable amount of time to pick up gifts. Once you begin shopping, set an alarm on your phone or other electronic device and refer to it frequently to keep you on track.

If you’re shopping with time constraints, there will be limited idle time to spend money on unnecessary items.

3. Pack your own snacks

Making a sandwich
Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com

Before heading out, eat some of your favorite snacks. Or, take them with you. The coffee shop in the mall may be filled with mouth-watering treats, but before you know it, you will have spent money that could otherwise have been allocated to your holiday gift fund.

4. Comparison shop

Man shopping, looking at cellphone
Tyler Olson / Shutterstock.com

Use your smartphone or any other electronic device to compare prices online. If you find an irresistible offer online, you might be able to visit a brick-and-mortar store and persuade the manager to match or even beat the price. You know how to haggle, don’t you?

5. Re-gift

Man holding Christmas gift, winking.
photo-nuke / Shutterstock.com

Do you have any brand new items sitting around unused? Check out: “The 9 Rules of Savvy Re-gifting.

The most important thing is to be sure you don’t end up giving them to the original purchasers.

6. Put your creative talents to use

Hands making crafts
Dmitry Kalinovsky / Shutterstock.com

If you have a little bit of time to spare, try your hand at some arts and crafts. Not sure where to start? Pinterest offers oodles of do-it-yourself project ideas along with instructions on how to create the perfect gift at little or no cost.

7. Check out Craigslist

Craigslist on screen.
Gil C / Shutterstock.com

Consider perusing the classifieds on Craigslist. Items offered on the site include furniture and vehicles and everything in between. In some instances, items are offered free of charge to the first individual to respond to the ad.

8. Shop online

Man shopping online.
Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com

Going this route can save you a ton of time and money. You may be able to avoid crowded stores altogether, assuming the items can be shipped on time. At very least, it will allow you to compare many possibilities, and sort by price, so you pinpoint your objectives and can more efficiently pick them up.

To learn how to get an even better deal, check out how to get cash back on your purchases here: “3 Websites That Pay You to Go Shopping.”

9. Purchase gift cards tied to promotional offers

Target gift card
Perry Correll / Shutterstock.com

Many retailers and restaurants offer gift cards at a reduced rate as part of their holiday promotional offers.

And if you decided to give a gift card — that’s certainly one solution for last-minute presents — check out “The Top 11 Gift Cards to Give in 2017.”

10. Let them choose

Feet with arrows pointing different directions.
Delpixel / Shutterstock.com

Still not sure what to purchase for those last few people on your list? Giftly allows you to give a specified sum of money, along with a suggestion on how to use it. In return, the recipient must let you know how the funds were spent.

These are just a few ways to save money while doing a little last-minute shopping. What tips do you have? Share them in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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